L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 202, December 9, 2002
LIVING IN INFAMY
Picking Your Target: Second Amendment Sisters Versus Paypal
Exclusive to TLE
Several months ago, the story started making the RKBA rounds that the on-line payment company PayPal is anti-gun. I'm rather vehemently pro-RKBA, so I took this report seriously. Yet, I've been using PayPal for quite a while, and found it extremely useful. So I decided to do a little investigating before dumping my account.
I started with a webpage that several people referenced when calling for a PayPal boycott. It was long on rhetoric, but suprisingly short on facts. Its sole supporting evidence for PayPal's iniquity was a hyperlink to the Second Amendment Sisters' website. I'm an associate member of the SAS; this definitely got my attention.
But what the SAS had was nothing more than a list of companies it deemed to be "anti-defense," without any explanation or supporting documentation. So I wrote and asked for some details. At the same time, I began perusing PayPal's website trying to find anything I deemed anti-defense; quite unsuccessfully. There just wasn't anything incriminating on-line. As for the SAS...
I searched out a couple more email addresses from the SAS website, and gave them a shot.
I pretty much shelved the matter after that, and decided to push on with PayPal. This happened to be about the time I starting marketing my science fiction novel. My budget was tight, to say the least, so I chose to use PayPal as the primary on-line payment method. (I accept e-gold, too; but few people choose to pay that way.)
I started getting emails from people who said they wanted to buy the novel, but were boycotting PayPal due to its anti-RKBA stance. A few of these principled folks provided URLs to support their boycott decisions.
This got weird. In every case, the pages backtracked to the SAS listing of PayPal. So I wrote to SAS once more.
No reply. A good friend back East has some close ties to the SAS, so I asked him if he could get any information through his contacts. That didn't work either.
Then in late August, I finally got through to Juli Bednarzyk at SAS. I explained what I was looking for, and why. Her response was:
I never heard from her again.
Is this necessarily "antigun"?
A PayPal Shop is not the same thing as a simple PayPal account (which has no such general firearms prohibition). It might seem to be a bit of a stretch, but a fed thug with an eye towards restricting gun sales could claim that a Shop is a department of the PayPal store; meaning that PayPal overall could be viewed as the seller if one of its Shops was a gun dealer. If you think this sounds nonsensical, remember that there has been proposed legislation which would require an FFL for any firearm transfer, and that newspapers have been pressured to refuse classified ads for guns.
Like it or not, right now in America, if you make a regular business of selling guns, the BATF thugs do insist that you get their permission, pay taxes and fees, and and put up with intrusive snooping. PayPal may not want to bother getting an FFL, subjecting itself to this. At any rate, the forum message was posted months after SAS blacklisted PayPal, so presumably SAS had some other reason for its action; I wish they'd share it with the rest of us.
Boycotts can be powerful tools, as Smith & Wesson, K-Mart, and CitiBank have learned. But we have to pick our targets properly. Taking action against a company that simply hasn't chosen to be a gun dealer is ridiculous. And it wastes our own time and energy which could be better focused elsewhere.
Would you boycott Victoria's Secret because they don't sell guns?
For the record, before wrapping up this article, I did attempt to reach the SAS once more. I received no reply. At this time, I do not anticipate renewing my SAS membership.